Thoughts on the Eurovision 2008 first semi-final

Some thoughts on last night’s Eurovision 2008 first semi-final in Belgrade which was, generally, very interesting.

The outfits made a fairly strong showing, especially with leather worn in a scantily-clad style, although Slovenia decided to be more chaste with all-over leather, with ropes to ensure the dancers couldn’t escape and be naughty. Or something. That was the first half anyway; the second half seemed to favour almost elegant dresses or traditional ridiculously short skirts. Ireland, of course, had a turkey with a man up its arse; we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if Turkey have a man with an island up his arse. Or something. More encouraging were Israel’s demons, Azerbaijan’s angels and demons (if I write Dan Brown Dan Brown Dan Brown I might get some inadvertent hits), the Polish lady’s fake (God, I hope so) tan, and Bosnia&c’s four meringuèd brides.

The quality of the songs wasn’t bad either, I thought. I am usually a fan of the traditional Eurovision song, but there were a number of attempts that I did think were a little too boring: e.g. Slovenia again, or Armenia’s shouty entry (which somehow got through); the Netherlands was OK; Greece, however, did it very well. Finland did metal again: although it wasn’t up to the standards, either of song or costume, of Lordi, it was certainly one of the best songs on the night. What is weird about both these Finnish metal entries is that despite the genre and the obvious gimmick they are both comparatively strong songs in terms of the competition. However, they were certainly out-gothed this time with the operatic, metal-ish, over-costumed brilliance of Azerbaijan, which had blood and everything.

Two entries stood out for originality: 1) Belgium, mainly because they made up a language (Ishtarian: sadly no Wikipedia page as yet) to sing in, which neatly side-steps the political aspects of which language to perform in. They also had an original, very slightly bizarre, but thoroughly charming and floaty sound, with no drums and little in the way of backing. Sadly, they didn’t make it to the final. 2) Bosnia&c, who also had a quirky though more upbeat song. It would have been a good song anyway, if you could concentrate over the aforementioned quartet of brides, the washing line, “strawberry” dress, and the strange strange poses of the lead singer. Luckily, this one got through.

A further note on the Irish entry. It was shit. It should and could have been funny, but it was, instead, shit. The lyrics were well put together but the song was just chanting interspersed with a few dance beats. And there was a hoarse turkey (not a horse turkey) on the stage. I’m all for novelty, me. But this was shit.

Oh, and they didn’t show the episode of Top Gear where Richard Hammond mated with a hobbit, but it must of happened because the result was singing for San Marino.

My favourites (with 4/5 points) were Azerbaijan, and Finland, both of which you can see on Saturday. My next favourites (3/5, but not all so scoring) were Belgium (out), Bosnia&c (in), and Greece (in). However, how Poland, Moldova, Armenia, and Romania got through I don’t know. Although some non-Eastern bloc countries got to the final this year, thanks to the revised semi-final voting, it is noticeable that the poorer entries that got through are Eastern bloc: both the Netherlands and Belgium deserved to beat any of those four by far.